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A Destroying Deity

William Blake, English, 1757 - 1827

Made in England, Europe

c. 1820-1825

Pen and brush and black ink and wash, with watercolor and graphite on wove paper

Sheet: 8 1/8 × 11 3/4 inches (20.6 × 29.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. William Thomas Tonner, 1964

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Among the English artists of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, only William Blake was gifted so equally in poetry and in painting. His output of drawings, temperas, watercolors, and prints was as prodigious as it was visually and technically inventive, and the books of verse that he wrote, illustrated, printed, and bound rank him among the finest English Romantic poets. Yet Blake's art was so poorly received during his lifetime that he was virtually unknown except to a limited circle of friends and patrons. He was notably opposed to the contemporary academic art establishment, and instead promoted an international style of Romantic Neoclassicism that eschewed the copying of nature and illusionistic representation, celebrating the pure linear outline and flowing contours of Greek vase painting and the heroic, muscular nudity of the human body. Thus in Blake's work backgrounds are abstracted and naturalistic space is flattened or suppressed, often to the point of disappearance, as in his Destroying Deity, the subject of which has never been exactly identified. Ann Percy, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 223.